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City Council Committee Assignments: Chin Heads Aging, Mendez Loses Public Housing Post

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(L-R) Council member Brad Lander, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Margaret Chin, Council member Mark-Viverito, Council member Ydanis Rodriguez.
At Council member Chin’s inauguration. (L-R) Council member Brad Lander, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Chin, Council member Mark-Viverito, Council member Ydanis Rodriguez.

This afternoon, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced committee and leadership assignments.  Here’s how it’s all shaking out for our local Council members.

District 1’s Margaret Chin will be the chairperson of the aging committee and will serve as a member of the education, transportation, recovery & resiliency, youth services and the rules, privileges & elections committees.  Meanwhile District 2 Council member Rosie Mendez will serve on the health, housing & buildings, land use,  public housing, recovery & resiliency and landmarks committees.  Mendez was previously chair of the public housing panel.  The chairmanship now goes to newly elected Council member Ritchie Torres of the Bronx, who defied his borough’s political machine in order to support Mark-Viverito’s campaign for speaker.  Mendez supported Mark-Viverito’s opponent for the speaker post, Dan Gardodnick.

Margaret Chin was one of 30 Council members who announced their early support for Mark-Viverito and she is a member of the Progressive Caucus, which has seen its influence grow substantially following this past November’s election.  In a recent public appearance, Chin said she had requested the chairmanship of the transportation committee. That job went to Upper Manhattan Council member Ydanis Rodriguez.  In a statement released a few moments ago, Chin said:

I am both humbled and proud to serve on committees that will make solid, meaningful change in the day-to-day in the lives of New Yorkers.  We as a unified City Council have a historic opportunity to make a positive difference, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to create and advocate for policies that will continue to push our city toward a progressive future. I am especially honored to serve as Chair of the Committee on Aging, and I am committed to ensuring that our seniors have the resources, support, and dignity they deserve. We must build a city where all of us can age in place, without the worry that we will be displaced by increasing rent or cuts to essential services. Now, let’s get to work.

Chin’s district covers most of the area below East Houston, including the Lower East Side and Chinatown, as well as Soho, Tribeca and the Financial District. Mendez represents the area above Houston Street, going up the East Side.

UPDATED 5:46 p.m. Capital has more on the political jockeying that left Mendez out in the cold:

“I’m disappointed I don’t get to chair something, but that’s life, we’re adults,” said Mendez, who supported Garodnick, but was seen as relatively neutral in the speaker’s race. A source familiar with the proceedings said Mendez was a victim of her late-breaking support, and the lack of a strong county organization in Manhattan. “Counties lobbied for their people; caucus lobbies for their people; a handful of independents came on board before Brooklyn County did, so Melissa Mark-Viverito looked out for them,” the source said. “Rosie was an independent who didn’t join team MMV and didn’t have a county.”

UPDATED 1/23: Some additional context regarding Council member Chin’s committee preferences and assignments.  In a meeting with a group of constituents on the Lower East Side earlier this month, Chin was asked a number of questions about transportation issues, including the long-delayed escalator rehabilitation project at the East Broadway station and infrequent MTA bus service on some routes.  In answering these questions, Chin made note of her interest in chairing the transportation committee.  Yesterday, staff members in the Council member’s office noted that Chin had requested other committees, as well, including the Committee on Aging.  They indicated that she is eager to take on the chairmanship of the aging panel and is in no way disappointed with her assignment.

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  1. Rosie Mendez got nothing?! Yipes! A 3 term member should have a least gotten to chair a minor committee. Wow.

  2. Rosie didn’t play the game, and good for her. There are worse things than not chairing a committee, esp’ after they get rid of their lulus. Chin played the game and still got demoted. One has principles, and the other is just not good at her job.

  3. Keith Wright and other Democrats need to re-organize Manhattan County into a more cohesive unit because Brooklyn has surpassed Manhattan as the borough for the wealthy and powerful property owners.

  4. Carlos, how right you are! Even though the landlord sellout (I call her rosie mentirosa) hope you read the attached article about how she and her girl pal Margarita Lopez are living in a building that was designated for the poor. Instead of serving the poor they are stealing from the poor. http://nypost.com/2010/10/31/no-boys-allowed/ Who re-elect this rosie the sell out? What’s wrong with us that we would re-elect someone who openly steals from the poor? What else is she doing behind closed hers that we don’t know about? She should be impeached!

  5. Did you know this about Rosie Mendez and Lopez? Caballero is no angel but the fact is that the building where Mendez and Lopez live was INTENDED for low-income housing which Mendez and Lopez are not. Isn’t it called stealing from the poor? HPD and HUD are aware of this and yet they turn and look the other way. Just how corrupt is NYC? Why did HPD look the other way?

    Sorry, fellas! An East Village co-op that’s home to one of the city’s top housing
    officials has become a women-only building where dirt-cheap units are
    marketed only by word of mouth to the residents’ pals, The Post has

    “I find it strange that no man has ever moved in,” said Roberto
    Caballero, a former district leader in the neighborhood. “I would
    consider that a form of discrimination.”

    Caballero, who is openly gay, says he believes “lesbians are
    favored for apartments” — as more than half of the building’s 12 known
    female residents are gay.

    The seven-unit building on East 11th Street near Avenue B was once
    owned by the city but was given away for peanuts in 1989 at a time when
    the neighborhood was overrun by junkies and drug dealers.

    Intended as low-income housing, the five-story tenement has become a
    destination for well-to-do lesbians, including Margarita Lopez, the
    $187,000-per-year Housing Authority board member and one-time city
    councilwoman, and Rosie Mendez, a current councilwoman.

    Despite the area’s gentrification, units sell for an astoundingly
    low $250 apiece plus capital improvement fees, with the caveat that the
    owner cannot sell for a profit, according to a contract with the city.

    The contract requires that new tenants be found “through a
    communitywide outreach program that will be nondiscriminatory.” But
    Lopez admitted, “The apartments are not marketed. It’s through word of
    mouth to the people we know in the community.”

    No man is known to have applied or been turned away. Gender
    discrimination in housing is against the law, which Lopez has a hand in
    enforcing in her day job as commissioner of the city’s 178,407
    public-housing units.

    Lopez declined to answer questions about the alleged
    discrimination, instead combatively asking back: “Are you implying that
    we have a problem with men?”

    She insisted the demographics of her own building have “nothing to
    do with me being the No. 3 official in NYCHA.” She added, “I lived in
    this building long before I ever dreamed of being an official.”

    Lopez has also long tapped the residents of the five-story tenement
    building for government jobs. When she was on the City Council, she
    hired Mendez, who bought a unit in 1995, to her council staff. Later,
    Lopez groomed Mendez to be her successor on the council.

    When Lopez was named to the Housing Authority’s three-person board
    in 2006, she hired her upstairs neighbor as her executive assistant,
    paying her $121,000 a year.

    In the 1980s, Lopez and five other women put in hard labor
    renovating the gutted building, in return for $630,000 in building funds
    — nearly all of it in the form of charity and taxpayer grants and

    Residents had to qualify as low-income, at least initially. But
    once you’re in, you’re in forever — even if you start making big bucks,
    like Mendez’s $112,500 council salary.

    Mendez said that when there was a vacancy the residents didn’t discuss gender.

    “It wasn’t couched in terms of men and women,” she said. “It was
    couched in terms of vacancies and ‘Let’s start interviewing people.’ ”

    She said she didn’t know if a man had ever applied but added, “I’ve never heard of any.” Written by Joseph Goldstein – NY Post

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